betta fish troubles

weekly post

Here are a few photos from a while ago.

Weekly posts kind of fell apart, if you hadn’t noticed. But I’m still taking pictures of them!  I have been inundated with photo shoots of preschools, babies, families…. and I am NOT complaining. But it does take time editing all those photos. A job I would love to be doing every day if I didn’t also have 2 hospital jobs.

Anyway, we got the girls chrome books for Christmas, and it’s the best idea we (thank you, I) ever had. No more complaining how slow my desktop is. Or kicking me off it to do their work. Or fighting over whose turn it is. Now they each have their own, and everyone’s happy.

By the looks of it, we still have personal space issues, but they can deal with that amongst themselves.


Betta fish issues.

Did you know Betta fish come with a 21 day guarantee? Guarantee not to die in the first 21 days. However, if they start to look lazy, then sleepy, then you see them lying on the rocks on the bottom with “tiny eyes”, you know they’re a goner, but there’s no money back for sick fish. Just dead fish. So our track record has been: healthy fish for 1 week. Looking lazy for 1 week. Getting sleepier and lazier and smaller eyes for one week. Day 22: dead. No money back on day 22. Sorry.

You wonder what the tiny eyes is about? Well, after 6 or 7 dead betta fish we know the signs well. As I said, they start swimming less, hanging out in corners of the tank or on the bottom more. BUT! They WILL scramble instantly if you bang on the tank with a hard plastic ruler! Thank you Payton, for discovering that kind little method of determining death vs just sitting on the bottom (praying for death to claim them because this life sucks).  Anyway, the sicker they get, the smaller their eyes get. I don’t quite understand the pathology of it myself, so I can’t go into more detail. But we have become dying betta experts, and we will tell you, for whatever reason, a week or two before they die, their eyes look like tiny black spots, not really eyes at all. But again, they will still move if anything threatening is banging against their tank.

Before I get to the picture of flushing dead fish in the toilet below, let me tell you how we finally coaxed them into flushing them at all.

The first 2 fish that died we buried in the garden. (gross, gross, gross. Note to self to mark those areas because if I ever try to plant flowers and dig up a decomposing fish skeleton I will have to chop off my hands after accidentally touching it).

As for the next few fish, we didn’t want to keep burying them (see terrifying idea of filling garden with fish carcasses above). I tried to flush them as soon as their eyes shrunk, but I had animal lovers who protested every attempt to do so.  One fish got so close to death, but still didn’t pass the ruler test of death, so we moved him and his tank into the laundry room so no one had to look at him. Now that I’m typing that out, that is insane logic. No one wants to look at him? But we can’t get rid of him? Ridiculous. Who is running this household anyway?

So he sits in the laundry room a few days, and finally Payton agrees he is dead. Tom scoops him out with toilet paper.

Let me repeat that so you read and comprehend: Tom sticks toilet paper into a fish tank full of water and scoops out a dead fish with his hands. Bare hands really. The toilet paper disintegrated on contact.  Here I go….feeling sick again thinking about touching fish….

He reports to me that the fish burst open and blood was everywhere. Or something to that effect. I know the fish pretty much disintegrated himself, but not sure they really bleed? I don’t know what the red stuff was. Nor do I ever, ever want to. That fish was (very unceremoniously) wrapped in more tissue and thrown into the garbage.

Flash forward to the most recent death. Finally convinced them it’s “natural” to send dead fish back to the sea, via the toilet. Hallelujah, they finally acquiesce. But not without a ceremony (read: funeral). They invite friends over, I’m the official photographer, (a poor one, because not a single photo of the deceased), and we send the fish to his final resting place. (where is that going be exactly? A water treatment plant where he gets ground up and decontaminated before maybe heading back to toilet tanks? Or maybe he could show up in one of those kids water sprinkler parks outside of the frozen yogurt shops where the signs are posted everywhere not to drink the water because it’s “recycled”? Better to keep all these thoughts to myself during the funeral, and just let them think he’s bobbing about in the ocean somewhere.)

Of note, we currently have 2 more betta fish. (does anyone ever learn?)  Harper’s is actually kind of trainable. We taught him to jump up and eat a little food kernel off our finger. That was awesome and we loved watching it. Until Payton stuck her (foodless) finger through a tiny hole in his cover, he jumped up for the food, latched onto her finger with his suction cup type mouth, and a freaked out Payton pulled her finger AND THE FISH out of the tank through the hole and onto Harper’s dresser counter! I watched the whole thing go down and I heard myself screaming; although it was also other-worldly in the sense that I felt I was having an out of body experience and was watching this happen from afar. That was probably wishful thinking, now that I think about it. It was real life, and I was there living it, and hating every minute of it. So as I screamed at Payton to go get Daddy (which she never did, because she was glued to the sight of the fish flapping all over the countertop!), and as Harper ran to get the small plastic bucket that the fish came in (in discussions about this later, her plan was to fill it with water and scoop him up. What? What? What? Off the countertop? I see that only as another mess I would have had to clean up and a lesson she would need to learn about gravity), I did what any good mom would do. I SCOOPED UP A FISH WITH MY HANDS!!! MANY TIMES!!! BECAUSE HE KEPT SLIPPING OUT OF MY GRASP AS HE THRASHED AROUND!!!

Pause for my heart rate to come back to normal. Just writing about this is making me anxious again. Have I mentioned how gross I think fish are? I do NOT want to touch a fish, in any capacity (salmon steaks that I’m about to cook are an exception. yum.), and here I had to touch him repeatedly. It was beyond disgusting. But I saved him and threw him back in the tank. We watched him closely for a few days. He swam a little less, we waited for tiny eyes, but he soon recovered from the stress and is going strong. This is the first fish who’s made it past 4 weeks! I think he’s been with us for about 2 months actually. And if he can survive the stress of Payton throwing him out of his water, he should be able to survive all other obstacles in a betta fish’s life. Welcome to the family, I think maybe you have potential.


I need to wrap this up. Too much fish talk! Cute little photo of friends walking home in the rain with the true gentleman behind them!


The only animal in our house that I am willing to touch. And I could hold this little guy all day. But I have to fight Payton for him.

We had a great evening at the Ronald McDonald House with the girl scouts and the moms. We wore hair nets (the highlight of our trip I’m pretty sure!) and made brownie and cookie sundaes for all the guests. It felt great and the girls loved doing something good for others.

Ladies night out! With Tom out of town, we drove up to meet my friend Kelli and her kids at a winery on the top of a  mountain in Escondido. Who knew?? The wine and pizza were awesome, and the view of the sunset was breathtaking. The only bad part? Driving home from a mountain top in Escondido after being at a winery….

Really need to work on the selfie. Or not. I am not a fan of selfies. Mostly because I’m not a fan of being in pictures. I can always find things to criticize about how I look. This selfie was more to capture Kelli and the sunset… so that was (sort of) successful. Will miss this girl so much when she moves to Japan this summer!

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